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RACP continues to advocate for vulnerable children

RACP continues to advocate for vulnerable children

The Vulnerable Children Bill currently before the Social Services Select Committee presents positive and important opportunities for the New Zealand Government to get it right for our children, according to two paediatricians representing the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

Dr Archie Kerr and Dr Adrian Trenholme have raised questions about the Bill’s provisions to screen and vet health professionals, acknowledging this may be an inefficient use of limited resources when most abuse occurs in the child’s home and the majority of health professionals are regulated and monitored under existing legislation.

Both doctors, with 60 years of collective specialist paediatric experience, stressed the need for the Bill to address the causes of vulnerability, the biggest of these being poverty, and that the scarce resources would be better directed towards preventative measures, such as economic and social support for families in need.

“I am dismayed by the frequency and severity of diseases, death and injury that the population in South Auckland in particular endures in childhood, in contrast to more affluent childhood populations in New Zealand and overseas,” said Dr Trenholme, a South Auckland paediatrician.

“Any effective measure will take time to implement and demonstrate clear impacts. The importance of this is exemplified within the Children’s Team pilots at DHBs whereby the development of trust and strong relationships between the health professionals and families is essential to the Team’s success,” said Dr Kerr.

“To ensure the Bill makes a significant impact, the evidence-based recommendations from the Child Poverty Action Group, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group and the recent report from the Health Select Committee must be incorporated within the legislation,” Dr Trenholme said.

The presenters concluded by emphasising the importance for everyone (including government and non-government agencies) to contribute, collaborate and commit to a long-term plan for our children that is immune to election cycles.

The RACP has actively advocated for the health and well-being of New Zealand’s vulnerable children and more information is available in a previous media release and submission.


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